Tag Archives: Order / Planning / Tracking (homeschool)

Homeschooling: Special Needs Table Time

Today, our best pal Lindsey is back.  You need only search the Guest Bloggers Tag to find many other posts she has shared with us.  Today she speak directly to my path.

 

Today I was having a chat with one of my favorite homeschooling mamas, she was feeling, in some ways, a bit of defeat. Her son is special needs, but they haven’t figured out a definitive diagnosis. I think any of us who have special needs children? Have been there. I remember just wanting to be justified- I remember thinking, “Something is *wrong* with my son, why can’t anyone tell me what!” I remember doing everything I could for him, and getting him tested for Autism, and then? I felt better, “HA! I TOLD YOU!” But, the truth is? His diagnosis? REALLY didn’t matter so much.

Here’s why:

You can slap a label on anything, children included. I am not AGAINST labels actually, because they help in school atmospheres, they help get help for our kids, but I certainly? Leave the labels to the professionals. For me? My middle son’s “symptoms” are what matters most.

So he has Autism. His technical diagnosis is: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Severe Sensory Processing Disorder, probable ADHD. You know what is kind of funny looking back though? I waited 6 months for an Autism test- on a waiting list, yet at the first MENTION of Autism by my pediatrician? It gave me a starting point- and I just flew with it.

I remember getting him in speech RIGHT away, he wasn’t speaking at the level he should be, I had known that but a previous pediatrician had essentially told me to stop comparing him to my other son because all children develop differently. Anyhow, once I had the tools, and the referrals I called the same day, within a week someone came to my house to assess my son. He didn’t “have Autism yet” on paper, but I told them based on the research I had done? I was fairly certain. The therapists were OH so careful to not say he did, or he didn’t fit the criteria, “I’m not saying he has Autism, but this behavior is common among those who have Autism, and here is how we would recommend you work with him.”

I did. I worked with him like crazy, and you know what? *TECHNICALLY* – He didn’t even have Autism- yet. Not on paper- not solidified in my mind- no proof- but yet? I was treating the ‘symptom’, in this case the symptom was that he lacked verbal skills. I was doing all this? And not even realizing it, because I was still focused on the diagnosis aspect.

If I could go back, and tell myself ONE thing, it would be, “Stop googling ‘symptoms of Autism’ and start googling the behavior you see!” Why? Because the diagnosis of Autism? Did NOT change my child. If I had googled the “symptom” or behavior rather, I would have seen how to simply address that ‘issue’.

Fast forward almost 6 years now and an official diagnosis. Sometimes? I just laugh at how much my mentality has changed, the constant hoops and loops of trying to get inside my son’s brain – figure out the why of his actions since he lacks the verbal ability to express them. He sure can talk now though- but putting his feeling into words is still a real struggle.

I am constantly having to translate, in many ways? It comes easily and naturally. Sometimes? I get stumped and reach out to my closest friends who ‘get it’ for advice. Those times, where I can’t translate myself? Are incredibly disheartening. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this? What the heck is going on inside of him? It’s the most extreme level of frustration, and if I don’t figure it out for a long period of time it can lead to quite a depression in some cases. I usually step back at that point, get back to basics, cut out anything that isn’t needed and start at the base. As I build up? We usually find that there was a loose brick in the wall, and if we hadn’t fixed it? Everything would have topple down.

Notice I said, “We find.” WE, my child and I, this isn’t an “I am the parent and should figure this out” kind of ‘problem,’ this is a, “Okay kiddo, you have my undivided attention, let’s work this out.” Kind of thing. And when I listen? I have to translate. Almost ALWAYS the behaviors are not defiance, or even anger, MOST times, the behaviors? Are pure frustration. Imagine you are in Spain, but you only speak English. You are hurting, and you keep telling people why and they just look at you. Over and over you tell them yet they aren’t helping you like you think they should. How would you feel? Then you meet one Spaniard, he speaks very broken English but is able to deduce the gist of your pain, and then he helps you.

This is what it is like being the parent of a child with Autism, at least for me. He is always being perfectly clear- but I sometimes? Lack the ability to speak his language, and my broken dialect makes it harder for me to figure it out- but with enough faith, and enough effort? We get to the bottom of it, and afterwards? I understand his language a little bit better, until next time.

All this brings me to the story of my chat this morning. A friend of mine was feeling a bit frustrated with her undiagnosed special needs kiddo. I know she feels that a diagnosis would at least give her some understanding. I know she feels this way – because I was there. I have since learned that my son’s diagnosis of Autism, just enables me to explain him to other people, who still, won’t ‘get it’. To me? He is just like any other kid, but I have to work a little harder to raise him because, he doesn’t run on the same batteries as the others. Just a different “model” if you will. One that makes me think a little harder and keeps me on my toes.

One thing, he will not do? Is sit still. I home-school and I often get frustrated because I feel he is behind. I feel he is doing work beneath him. Both my older children were in public school, I know how it all works, I pulled them out because the school wasn’t helping either of them. I know, that if my son was in Public School right now he’d need a constant aid, and he would be put in a special room because there is no WAY he’d keep up with the 1st grade pace. I started really getting worried- he couldn’t add, and I didn’t understand why! I worked with him and it appeared he couldn’t sequence, he couldn’t add, and he didn’t know his numbers. I freaked. Maybe I’m not doing so well at this, maybe I shouldn’t have pulled him, and maybe I am totally screwing this up. I quickly purchased over $40 in computer software, because that is what he prefers to work on. I loaded it up, I told him he had to sit there and do it.

He mastered all 4 games, in a matter of 30 minutes, clicking answers before the question had even finished verbalizing itself. Adding, Subtracting, matching, sequencing, and more. All of the things I didn’t think he could do.

Are…you….kidding?

Then? I realized- those worksheet? I was reading to him? The fact I was expecting him to do the work at the table? Was too hard for him. It couldn’t keep his concentration! I also realized that this is why I decided to home-school, so that I didn’t have to expect conventional methods of teaching to work for him.

Now we do only 10-15 minutes of writing a day. 3 worksheets. Split up, one at a time. He needs the fine motor skills, but I am much more worried about him knowing how to add, than being able to write the answer, at least at this point. We’ll get there, but since writing takes SO much out of him? I’d rather focus on the skill itself. Spelling on the computer, reading, and doing math is good. We also play word bingo, phonics bingo, math bingo, and other toys that go along with our subjects.

I was trying to find a way to explain my reasoning of this. How “table time” can be a bit stressful for kids with special needs and here is what I came up with.

We have all had to fill out important paperwork, such as insurance paperwork. We know all the answers for the most part, so it’s not hard in that aspect, but we do have to think hard on it. We sit down, we begin to fill the forms out, our brain is going, then a child comes up with the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom….” And we react by 1) Ignoring the child for a moment all while he/she is still highly distracting. 2) We react with frustration, “JUST A MINUTE!” Or 3) We get up, take care of the child and then sit back down, when we sit back down? It’s work to get our brain back to where it needs to be.

We are capable of filling out the forms.

We know all of the answers.

So WHY? When we are all done and stand up? Does it feel like we breathe a giant sigh of relief, why does our brain feel so tired? Why are we seemingly more irritable than we were prior to this ‘easy’ paper work? I mean after all- it should be easy right? We already know all the answers.

For children with ADHD or Autism, table time can be just that. They know what the number 5 is. They know how it looks, but even just sitting and working to write it? If they lack fine motor skills, or are slower at using their fine motor skills? Then it becomes just like that insurance paperwork. You know the answer, but it requires maximum concentration.

Every sound in the house from the fan whirring, to a distant TV, to the hum of the lights, the clang of the dishes as you clean the kitchen; all these things? Are the same as the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom,” factor. Taking a break? That only works if one task is done, stopping in the middle of the task, sitting back down? Your child is doing the, “Okay now where was I?”

I am not saying that table time should be ignored, but short quick intervals with sensory breaks (when one task is done) can do wonders. Finding alternate things that will teach the same skills is by far the best. For writing, I like the sensory mats, where you trace a letter or number in the gel using your finger. Doing math in shaving cream is SUPER fun! Each child is uniquely different, but for those who have attention issues, or occupational issues I think we have to constantly adapt our *typical* mindset of methods, to what will work best for that child.

We may not speak their language fully, but we are more capable of translating than anyone else. We have to work hard at it, we have to constantly put ourselves in their shoes, and in the end? Never be afraid to say to your child, “I want to help you, but I don’t know how. Can you tell me how I can help you?”

You just may be surprised by the answer.

 

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11.21.13

Our school day today:

Bible – 10 minutes

Spelling –20 minutes

Vocabulary – 35 minutes

Penmanship – 35

Phonics:

  •             Workbook – 30 minutes
  •             Review sheets – 30 minutes

Reading:

  •             On-line tutor – 65 minutes
  •             Real book practice – 25 minutes

Math

  •             Workbook – 50 minutes
  •             Practice sheets – 40 minutes

Home Ec – 15 minutes

Civics – 60 minutes

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first quarter hours

We are required to do 1000 school hours for a school year; July 1 to June 30.  600 hours have to be core, and 400 can be non-core.

There are many ways to look at, or break this requirement, down into functional bits:

  • 1000 / 12 = 83.33 so 84 hours a month
  • 1000 / 52 = 19.23 so 20 hours a week
  • 1000 / 365 = 2.7 so 3 hours a day

Here are our hour totals / tally up to the end of first quarter of 2013-2014 (that is July, August, Sept., and Oct.):

July:

  • 2990 minutes core = 49 hours and 50 minutes
  • 605 minutes non-core = 10 hours and 5 minutes

July total = 59 hours and 55 minutes

August:

  • 6445 minutes core = 107 hours and 25 minutes
  • 950 minutes non-core = 15 hours and 50 minutes

YTD Aug 31th = 183 hours and 10 minutes

September:

  • 4038 minutes core = 67 hours 18 minutes
  • 790 minutes non-core = 13 hours and 9 minutes

YTD Sept 30th = 263 hours and 33 minutes

October:

  • 6620 minutes core = 110 hours and 20 minutes
  • 610 minutes non-core = 10 hours and 10 minutes

TYD Oct 31st: 384 hours and 3 minutes

We are roughly 51 hours ahead of where we ‘have to be’ as of October 31 2013

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Second Grade Subjects

A little look at the subjects we are covering this year.  NOTE:  Not everything gets done every day

  • Bible / Character
  • Spelling
  • Logic
  • Vocabulary (we alternate two books)
  • Story of the World (World history)
  • Science
  • Human Body
  • Memory
  • Penmanship
  • Phonics
  •             Practice phonics skills
  •             Sight word flash cards
  •             Exploring The Code work book
  • Reading
  •             Reading on line tutor
  •             Practice reading real book
  •             Reading comprehension workbook
  • Journal
  • Math
  •             Practice facts
  •             Workbook
  • Music
  • Grammar
  •             Writing With Ease
  •            First language Lessons

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our weekly routine

Standard Weekly Plan;  2nd Grade

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Bible /

Character

 

 

Ch Def and verse

 

Memory page

 

Read chapter in Bible

Review Memory Page

 

Story Pages

 

Review def of ch

 

What If’s

 

Review Memory page

 

Worksheets pages

 

Review def of ch

 

Review Memory page

 

Review story

 

Review def of ch

Review Memory page

 

Chapter test

 

Review Ch Def

 

Phonics / reading /  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

spelling / diction Pre-test

 

Copy missed words

 

 

Copy all words 3x

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Practice test

 

Copy missed words

Lang Arts / Grammar  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Math

 

Goal 4 pages a day

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Writing / comp / penmanship  

Char Definition

 

 

Char Bible Verse

 

 

Bible study verse

 

Bible study fact

 

Line from memory work

World history  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

US History / Social Studies  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Logic / Science  

LOGIC

 

 

SCIENCE

 

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 
Art / Geography          
Literature / read-a-loud  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

Memory work  

Review all memory work

 

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

if you’d like to see more about my planning of our homeschool experience see this blog.

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Planning and Record Keeping

I am legally obligated to maintain a portfolio for Big Brother (Little Brother is too young, records do not have to be maintained until a child is 7).  I also have to maintain a log of hours spent; we have to log 1000 hours per school year (minimum of 600 in core subjects and up to 400 in noncore).

So I thought I would discuss my planning / record keeping “system”.  It is a bit cumbersome and a tad repetitive but I didn’t plan it, exactly, the way things work now; they just fell into place.  For now I am going with it, because it seems to be working, even if it is somewhat redundant.

First:  Planning ahead.  I don’t plan too far ahead.  I find if I do, we just get off track and upset me.  I plan the big picture (for example, we just finished, in US History, 1000 AD and the Viking to 1590 and the Lost Colony of Roanoke; next we will cover 1600 and Jamestown to the American Revolution).   I know how much of each subject we need to do on a day (or a week) and I keep that in mind; but I am not at a point where I plan out, day by day, what we are going to be doing weeks in advance.  I don’t plan, on Oct 7th to cover pages 45 to 48 in our Phonics work book).  I have a ROUTINE SHEET that shows what we routinely do each day (Like Monday for Penmanship we always copy the character definition we are learning that week).  This allows for a fast reference for subjects like spelling or penmanship that repeat themselves weekly (see chart below).  For other subjects (like math) we simply “do the next thing” and I keep in mind how many pages a day we need to cover to finish up according to my goals (for math that is by the end of the year, for his Writing With Ease it is semester so we can move on to the next book and be on book 3 by next school year).

daily list

Each night I make a list of the subjects we are going to cover the next day in my spiral notebook.  I usually make notes of what page I want to start on, or what topic I want to cover (like next to penmanship I might note “Character definition”).  Each night I prep the next day’s school; printing out math practice sheets, writing out handwriting, and so on. The goal is to have everything ‘ready to go’ when we go to the table.  I lay it all out the night before, and look over stuff so I know what to expect the next day.  I am saving this spiral notebooks for now, at the end of the year I am not sure if I will keep them or not, but for the duration of the year I am.

Secondly:  As we check a subject off our To DO List, I note what we actually did; the pages covered, the topic covered.  I note out beginning and ending time, since I have to log our school hours for state reporting.  At the end of the day I count our time – and write the minute total for each subject at the far right hand side of the page, so it creates a column to be added up to give us our daily total.  I also highlight subjects we finish as we finish them; I don’t want to cross things off the list (because I want to still be able to read it) but I need some ‘way’ to show what is done vs what still has to be done.

daily list highlighted

Thirdly:  I transfer our hours to a small (5×7) ‘day at a glance’ calendar.  There I list, daily, the subjects covered and the time.  In this calendar I also fill in the month at a glance with our hour totals and keep a running total for the month(s).

daily hours recorded

mopnthly hours recorded

Finally:  I maintain representative work in a portfolio.  I have been maintaining portfolios since Big Brother started Pre-school.  This is nothing new.  Each fall I make a binder for each boy, and label it with the grade they are in for the year.  Then as the year goes on I pull work to add it.  In the past I have included examples of handwriting, art and anything I thought they did and extra good job on, or anything ‘memorable’ (the first time Little Brother drew me a flower for example).  This year, with a mind towards making it a more complete representation of their school work I am being more careful to choose work from all subjects.  This year, for the first time, I have divided the portfolios by subject rather than just lumping everything together in order date order.

So there you have it; how I plan ahead, and how I keep our records.

Standard Weekly Plan;  2nd Grade

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 
Bible /

Character

 

 

Ch Def and verse

Memory page

Read chapter in Bible

Review Memory Page

Story Pages

Review def of ch

What If’s

Review Memory page

Worksheets page

Review def of ch

 

Review Memory page

Review story

Review def of ch

Review Ch Def

Review Memory page

Chapter test

Phonics / reading /  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

spelling / diction  

Pre-test

Copy missed words

 

Copy all words 3x

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

 

Practice test

Copy missed words

Lang Arts / Grammar  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Math

 

Goal 4 pages a day

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Writing / comp / penmanship  

Char Definition

 

Char Bible Verse

 

Bible study verse

 

Bible study fact

 

Line from memory work

World history  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

US History / Social Studies  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

Logic / Science  

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 

LOGIC

 

SCIENCE

 
Art / Geography  

 

       
Literature / read-a-loud  

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

 

DO THE NEXT THING

Memory work  

Review all memory work

 

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

Current piece

 

 

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A day in the life of our homeschool family

Monday Sept. 23

Inspired by Sarah’s post here I decided to do my own Day in the Life.  Sadly when I started it this morning, I thought we were going to have a great school day, then life intervened.  I plodded on and did this post today anyway, as testament to homeschooling as a part of real life.

7:30:  we woke up, this is late.  Actually this is when Little Brother wok up and I got up.  Big Brother actually got up at 6 (I thought is was 6:30, Daddy says it was 6) and went in to Daddy and spent some quality time (that is kept Daddy awake).  We were going to go walk with Daddy before he went to work; but that plan didn’t fly when Momma could not wake up and the boys were grumpy.  Daddy went to work and Momma fed the boys.

8:00:  We were doing art.  This is totally odd for us since I generally make them wait till school is done for art; but they have been after me to pai nt nerf darts to make them in to slugs (from Slugterra).  It kinda works if you keep the paint thin; think paint flakes off.

art 2

art

 

 

8:30: we are finally at the table.  Generally we are at the table at 7:30 or 8:00.  I really like the days we are at the table by 7 or 7:30.  Today it was 8:00 which is not all that bad.  Big Brother starts with Penmanship, Little Brother is doing Jump Start Kindergarden on the computer and Momma is cleaning up art and breakfast and putting dinner in the crock pot.

table time

computer time

9:00:  Big Brother has moved on to spelling and Little Brother is getting tired of Jump Start

boys at table

9:30 we have to stop table time, that is going really well, and leave for a doctor’s appointment.  The boys did get Journal done before we had to leave.

little work

bigs work

9:50 to 11:00 waiting in the WAITING ROOM for a 10:00 am appt.  Then we wait in the exam room 25 more minutes for a 3 minute appointment.  Momma is not a happy Momma.  We did, however, accomplish Memory work (the Preambvle to the Consituion) and watched a School House Rock video too.  We also read over 30 pages in oour World History (Story of the Wolrd Vol 2) 

12:45 : we are finally home, I let Little Brother watch TV, Big Brother heads back to the table to do math and Mom makes a late lunch.  After feeding the boys, and while Big works on math by himself Mom calls a doctors office and makes a few other medical phone calls.

2:00– the boys both take a TV break and Momma makes Epi Pen Packs (2 Epi Pens, typed out instructions, and all medication necessary) for Little Brother’s flying insect sting allergy.tv time

3:00  Grammar is done and Momma calls an end to the school day.  There is more than could and should be done; but by this time in the afternoon the attentions spans are waning.  Today we did NOT do:  Bible / Character, Science, Manners, or Phonics.

I send the boys off to play and I try to get chores does around the house.  Big Brother is writing pages about his slugs.

3:30:   most of the laundry folded Momma sneaks in her first kettle bell / hand weight work out of the day; this SHOULD be work out 2 if not 3 for the day.  Three hours to go to a 3 minutes appt this morning really through the day off (that and sleep till 7:30).

4:45:  we did a full house pick up to get ready for Daddy to come home.  We set the dinner table and watched Wild Kratts on PBS.

setting the table

5:30:  Daddy gets home and dinner is eaten.

6:15 EPI PEN education.  This will have to be repeated; but we made a good start on the boys’ learning their roles in responding to an allergic reaction in Little Brother.

After that we colored a little, Little Brother helped Daddy work on the car a little, and we watched Mystery in the Museum on the DVR

7:40: Bedtime

8:00 Asleep

sleeping boys

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